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Saving trees - killing the Post Office

Death of the post office

Death of an institution

In the last five years, the US Postal Service has seen its mail drop by 43.1 billion pieces. No business can survive such a radical drop in demand for its services and hope to continue business as usual.

In the UK there is constant talk about privatizing the Royal Mail. In fact, this has been going on for years, with downstream access already doing the bulk sorting and distribution for thousands of businesses.

What the post office always had was a monopoly on the last mile. No-one else wanted to have the headache of employing feet on the street, but the internet has created an entirely new delivery mechanism that is fast replacing traditional print and post. Of course, the consequence of this is the constantly declining volumes of corporate mail and the reality of a shrinking business model.

Every business knows that when faced with declining revenues, you need to reduce costs and cut your cloth accordingly. I guess the unions (in the case of Canada Post) and thousands of people involved in post office business models make this a difficult process.

Luddite behavior

Unionized post office workers are the 21st century equivalent of the Luddites; their strikes are the modern day equivalent of destroying the mechanized looms that put them out of work. However, as with the Industrial revolution, there is a fundamental change afoot. Any industrial action by post office workers plays into the hands of eBilling companies and once the ‘genie is out of the bottle’, it’s hard to get it back in again – very few people go back to paper once they move to eBilling.

Post Offices around the world are reviewing their business models (we see their consultants on our website every week.) Bills and statements, once the mainstay of postal volumes, are rapidly moving to electronic delivery. For the post office to reinvent itself, it will need to embrace the connected world we now live in. It’s getting some help from ecommerce – home delivery of purchases (a possible future headline – “Amazon saves the post office”?) But is that enough?

Spare a thought for the postman

When considering eBilling, we weigh up environmental and costs savings vs. paper production and cost of distribution. The fact that the post office is now a shrinking business model is proof that many more businesses are realising the benefits and ROI associated with eBilling and are actively migrating customers from paper to electronic documents.

So while you enjoy the eBilling benefits of instant delivery, one click payment, soft copy storage, interactive sorting and graphing and consequently saving a few trees, spare a thought for your local postman, his job is under threat. But as the cliché goes – it’s not personal, it’s just business.

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